Two Poems by Nancy Hightower



for Jericho

Death always wins. Despite sunset
and a blood moon calling for magic,
there’s a small body left
in the field of lilacs
and still more bodies
adrift on a forgotten sea,
and he sings their names
in remembrance, wears a crown
of flowers with half-cocked grin
because tomorrow brings
new tragedies like a promise.

Still, he believes
in the prophecy of rain,
blesses the descent
from belly to hip bone
to the glory of inner rooms,
thumb pressed into flesh
as prayer, a wreckage
of want and thunder
to rock open any grave,
because every sixty minutes
another heart crashes into a plane
full of gods and babies
and young lovers stealing kisses,
and stewardesses in red bandanas
serving everyone small cups of Coke
like it was champagne, smiling
like it wasn’t the last moment
of their lives.


The Doomsday clock
reads at one hundred seconds
to midnight. My students ask
if they can have extra time
for the final. I tell them Kafka
created endless snowdrifts
to swallow doctors and horses,
and sad, grotesque vermin
who invade our homes
and claim us as family.

It pays to be vermin
in times like these,
growing in size while
others disappear
like the honey bees
who were killed
for their sweetness.

To make silk, seven day old
pupae are boiled for the thread
in their cocoons because we miss
the softness of touch.
One hundred seconds.
Say it sweetly, sadly,
as the kids get ready for school.
Remind them not to step on the ants.

Nancy Hightower has been published in Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Entropy, Sundog Lit, Barren Magazine, and Drunk Monkeys, among others. Her first collection of poetry, The Acolyte, was published in 2015 by Port Yonder Press and was a finalist for the Elgin Award Book of the Year. Her story “Medusa Gets a Girlfriend” was chosen for Wigleaf’s Top 50 in 2017. In 2018, she she was granted a micro-residency at the Strand Bookstore by The Poetry Society of New York as part of their joint Poet-A-Day Project. She currently teaches at Hunter College.

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